When I’m in the city alone for work (the one meeting I generally go to a week, while Brazil’s home on Wednesdays) and I see someone I know, they exclaim without fail, “but where’s your baby?!” like we’re bonded together. Soldered. Like he’s still a part of me.
I want to say, “he has a father”. I want to say, “have you ever asked his dad that, when you saw him out on his own?”. I want to say, “not sure” or “I left him in the car”.
Instead I laugh awkwardly and explain he’s with his dad. Or he’s with my parents, if he is. His dad’s working four days now, so I can work a bit, and so he can spend more time with Nico while he’s little.
“Isn’t he a wonderful father,” they say. “So involved.”
When I told Mum I was taking on a project and Brazil would cut down at work, she asked, “but what about his career?”. What about mine, Mum?
It’s not actually all about me. When Brazil asked to work fewer hours, daycare was raised as an alternative. Like the only issue was whether I had time to work – not whether he had time to parent.
(Also, I’m a better parent when I have something other than my son to think about. Five days at home on our own made me a crazy person. Two sets of two days keeps me engaged. Keeps both of us happy. And makes his dad happy too.)
Last Wednesday, I went to a meeting and Brazil took Nico to a local cafe for lunch. An older lady sitting near him watched him feed Nico his bottle, take him to change his nappy, and chat to him while he ate his eggs and bacon. She came over. “Is that your baby?” she asked, and after he replied in the affirmative, “but where’s his mother?”
Her tone implied, is she dead?
Once the fact that I was alive and well was straightened out, she was beside herself. “Aren’t you wonderful,” she gushed. “Out all on your own with the baby!”
I’m just saying, no one has ever stopped me in the street to tell me what a great parent I am for leaving the house. (And I frequently think I really deserve it.)
Because Brazil is lovely, he was pissed. He appreciated the woman was only being nice, but he sat across the kitchen bench from me later and said, “it’s fucking depressing. Is the bar really that low? Feeding my child a bottle without supervision makes me dad of the year?”
Yep. And working at all makes my parenting questionable. Welcome to the world, baby boy. I hope things have changed a bit by the time you’re a parent.